Citizens, Police Mobilize Against Solicitors

Local police issue alerts, meet with neighbors to discuss tips for dealing with aggressive solicitors.


The better weather of late spring and summer brings an influx of door-to-door solicitors to Lamorinda neighborhoods and residents, Patch is told, are teaming with local police to ward them off.

Walnut Creek police issued an alert for neighbors to better understand the legalities of dealing with door-to-door solicitors, and Moraga Police Chief Bob Priebe is meeting with at least one neighborhood group weary of hard-sell, front porch sales pitches for everything from magazines to meat.

The most frequent violations, police say, are for solicitors who saturate neighborhoods without first obtaining a permit from the city, and many residents mistakenly believe the person on their doorstep has undergone a criminal background check. That is not the case, according to Walnut Creek police.

"Our current Municipal Code does not allow for a denial of a permit based on prior criminal history or failure to disclose criminal history" Walnut Creek police report, and concern over amped-up, "won't take no for an answer" sales groups trucked into pre-selected neighborhoods on a regular basis heightened with the murder of a Lafayette woman who opened her door to a "magazine salesman" who raped, robbed, and strangled her.

Tales of odd solicitor behavior abound. On Feb. 19, on Conejo Way, a well dressed man knocked at the door "asking to be adopted and would be back tomorrow," police reported. In Moraga, a salesman who attempted to explain his odd behavior by saying he had suffered "too many concussions" made himself at home on a resident's front porch and kept up a sustained knocking for three minutes.

And, it seems, those "No Solicitor" signs are not meant to be ignored after all. Suggestions regarding home solicitations were issued Wednesday by Walnut Creek police:

  • If you do not want your privacy disturbed post a "No Soliciting" sign clearly on your property (this can even be hand written).
  • You do not have to answer your door. You should always check to see who is at your door prior to opening it. If you are at all nervous listen to your intuition and do not answer your door.
  • If you want to report a solicitor who you believe is violating the Municipal Code or you suspect is violating or is about to violate any law you can call dispatch directly. Remember to obtain a good description of the subject and/or vehicle (including license plate) and direction of travel to give to the dispatcher or officers.
  • Assist the officers with the investigation and inform them if you are requesting the solicitor be cited or you want the subject placed under citizens arrest (if applicable). You can also remain anonymous but this will limit what the officers can do.
  • Network with your neighbors to watch out for each other. If you have an aggressive solicitor, you may want to call your neighbors to warn them and call the police department.
  • Eastofthehills May 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM
    Alright there you go! cutting off their hands makes it hard to put them to work! A good whooping should straighten them out! You should advocate for workhouses ala Oliver Twist!
    Rosemary May 17, 2012 at 10:41 PM
    East - We are a capital punishment state. It's absurd to think corporal punishment is worse than capital punishment; hence, I firmly believe that caning is a legitimate and useful tool that we should be using to combat crime. I fail to understand why people believe coddling and cooing over criminals will make them less likely to offend. Probably the same folks who think Little Johnny needs a time-out and a chance to talk about his feelings so we can understand why he broke mommy's vase.
    Jose May 18, 2012 at 04:26 AM
    A gaggle of Jeh Witness landed on my stoop this morning, the first is in a couple of years, and they got past the dog. I answered them that I WAS the lady of the house. They puzzled over this a bit, but the trance was broken, and they left peaceably. Try that before going all George Zimmerman.
    Shannon Nicosia May 27, 2012 at 09:24 PM
    We had door to door salesmen come to the door selling an alarm system for a company called Mototronics. Unfortunately, they talked my husband into installing a system at which time they stole jewelry out of the bedroom while we were home. The guy that did it is named Gabriel Duran and guess what.... there is not a thing we can do about it. The company is not doing anything either and we have proof he stole it. Sucks! Do not let your guard down.
    Ruth April 20, 2013 at 06:36 PM
    Jehovah Witnesses profess to be Christians who follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Jesus sought out people from house to house and village to village encouraging people of all faiths to read their bible. Bible readers are familiar with this practice and it is far from tresspassing as I have yet to have a Jehovah Witness kick down doors for force preach (tongue in check). If you are not interested simply say so and the Witnesses will happily move on to a person open to discuss current bible topics. The first amendment entitles freedom of practice of religion. The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing laws that will establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. The courts have interpreted the establishment clause to accomplish the separation of church and state. Religious freedom is an absolute right, and includes the right to practice any religion of one’s choice, or no religion at all, and to do this without government control.


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